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Chastity Hopkins ’15


Nursing is often ranked as the most trusted profession, which is something that comes to mind often on every shift. I am a geriatric resource nurse at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), as well as part of a nursing residency program and a member of our Contemporary Primary Nursing Committee.

The unique liberal arts experience I received at Swarthmore has been invaluable to my work—every day, I have to look at things critically and with nuance, be empathetic and open-minded, and analyze beyond numbers to see people holistically.

Nursing is a very rewarding job. It can be challenging to wear a dozen hats from educator to advocate, but being able to help people during some of their toughest times makes it all worth it.

I got here thanks to Swarthmore: After I graduated, I took a year to work so that I could save money. Because of my biology degree, I was able to enroll in an accelerated program for a bachelor of science in nursing, through which I was lucky enough to receive an internship at MGUH as a student nurse tech. After nursing school, I accepted my position as a nurse here.

There’s never a typical day for me on the job. I work rotating shifts: days, nights, weekends. My work starts at 7 (either a.m. or p.m.), but I usually arrive early to give myself time to prepare. Every day is different but includes assessments, medication administration, multidisciplinary rounding, charting, and ensuring the floor runs smoothly. I work three 12-hour (but always actually longer) shifts a week, along with additional classes, coursework, contact hours, and overtime.

We see a lot of people at their worst and most stressed, so we nurses often take the brunt of their anger and frustrations. Getting people to see you as someone who is only trying to do what’s best for them can be difficult. I try my hardest to keep it all in perspective and to manage the things that are within my control—and to recognize what isn’t—while still providing the best care possible. As someone relatively new to this work, I am constantly shaped by the interactions I have at the hospital.

As a nurse, you don’t always know if you’re doing a good job—it can be really hard to work with people who are having a tough time or are maybe even at the lowest point of their lives. Many days, there are very few smiles. I am grateful for them when they happen, though, and I give it my best each and every shift.

What drew me to this field is that there is no singular path in nursing; instead, it offers a wide array of opportunities to explore, both in and out of a hospital setting. Nurses can get additional specializations, certifications, and degrees. There are also many ways to move up the chain, whether as a nurse practitioner, as a researcher, or in hospital/practice management.

As a nurse, it is my duty to always be as capable and careful as possible. Every time I am in the hospital, I am responsible for every patient I come in contact with, so I do my best to stay vigilant and to ensure they’re safe.

In the words of Voltaire (or possibly Ben Parker), with great power comes great responsibility, and I take a lot of pride in—and feel the full weight of—the fact that I have chosen to dedicate my life to helping others.


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